See more synonyms for proper on
  1. adapted or appropriate to the purpose or circumstances; fit; suitable: the proper time to plant strawberries.
  2. conforming to established standards of behavior or manners; correct or decorous: a very proper young man.
  3. fitting; right: It was only proper to bring a gift.
  4. strictly belonging or applicable: the proper place for a stove.
  5. belonging or pertaining exclusively or distinctly to a person, thing, or group.
  6. strict; accurate.
  7. in the strict sense of the word (usually used postpositively): Shellfish do not belong to the fishes proper. Is the school within Boston proper or in the suburbs?
  8. Grammar.
    1. (of a name, noun, or adjective) designating a particular person or thing and written in English with an initial capital letter, as Joan, Chicago, Monday, American.
    2. having the force or function of a proper name: a proper adjective.
  9. normal or regular.
  10. belonging to oneself or itself; own.
  11. Chiefly British Informal. complete or thorough: a proper thrashing.
  12. Ecclesiastical. used only on a particular day or festival: the proper introit.
  13. Heraldry. (of a device) depicted in its natural colors: an oak tree proper.
  14. Informal.
    1. excellent; capital; fine.
    2. good-looking or handsome.
  15. Mathematics. (of a subset of a set) not equal to the whole set.
  16. Archaic. of good character; respectable.
  1. Informal. thoroughly; completely.
  1. Ecclesiastical. a special office or special parts of an office appointed for a particular day or time.

Origin of proper

1250–1300; Middle English propre < Old French < Latin proprius one's own
Related formsprop·er·ly, adverbprop·er·ness, nounun·prop·er, adjectiveun·prop·er·ly, adverb

Synonyms for proper

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for proper

Contemporary Examples of proper

Historical Examples of proper

British Dictionary definitions for proper


  1. (usually prenominal) appropriate or suited for some purposein its proper place
  2. correct in behaviour or conduct
  3. excessively correct in conduct; vigorously moral
  4. up to a required or regular standard
  5. (immediately postpositive) (of an object, quality, etc) referred to or named specifically so as to exclude anything not directly connected with ithis claim is connected with the deed proper
  6. (postpositive foll by to) belonging to or characteristic of a person or thing
  7. (prenominal) British informal (intensifier)I felt a proper fool
  8. (usually postpositive) (of heraldic colours) considered correct for the natural colour of the object or emblem depictedthree martlets proper
  9. maths logic (of a relation) distinguished from a weaker relation by excluding the case where the relata are identical. For example, every set is a subset of itself, but a proper subset must exclude at least one member of the containing setSee also strict (def. 6)
  10. archaic pleasant or good
  1. British dialect (intensifier)he's proper stupid
  2. good and proper informal thoroughlyto get drunk good and proper
  1. the parts of the Mass that vary according to the particular day or feast on which the Mass is celebratedCompare ordinary (def. 10)
Derived Formsproperly, adverbproperness, noun

Word Origin for proper

C13: via Old French from Latin prōprius special
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for proper

c.1300, "adapted to some purpose, fit, apt; commendable, excellent" (sometimes ironic), from Old French propre "own, particular; exact, neat, fitting, appropriate" (11c.), from Latin proprius "one's own, particular to itself," from pro privo "for the individual, in particular," from ablative of privus "one's own, individual" (see private (adj.)) + pro "for" (see pro-). Related: Properly.

From early 14c. as "belonging or pertaining to oneself; individual; intrinsic;" from mid-14c. as "pertaining to a person or thing in particular, special, specific; distinctive, characteristic;" also "what is by the rules, correct, appropriate, acceptable." From early 15c. as "separate, distinct; itself." Meaning "socially appropriate, decent, respectable" is first recorded 1704. Proper name "name belonging to or relating to the person or thing in question," is from late 13c., a sense also preserved in astronomical proper motion (c.1300). Proper noun is from c.1500.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper